Low-Power Orientation Tracker and an Optimized Math Library for the MSP430

MSP430 Orientation Tracker

Orientation trackers can be used for a ton of different applications: tracking mishandled packages, theft notification of valuables, and navigation are just a few examples! A recent blog post from Texas Instruments discusses how to build a low-cost and low-power orientation tracker with the MSP430.

Based on the MSP430 LaunchPad and CircuitCo’s Educational BoosterPack, the orientation tracker is very simple to put together. It can also be made wireless using any of the wireless BoosterPacks with a Fuel Tank BoosterPack, or by using the BLE Booster Pack with a built in Lithium Battery circuitry. TI provide all the necessary code and design files in their reference application for getting your orientation tracker up and running. Be sure to see the device in action after the break! This project not only involves building a low-power orientation tracker, but also showcases IQmathLib, a library of optimized fixed point math functions on the MSP430. One of the more challenging aspects of using small MCUs such as the MSP430 or Arduino is how inefficient built in math libraries are. Check out the IQmathLib, it greatly improves upon the built in math functions for the MSP430.

It would be interesting to see this project modified to be a DIY pedometer or be used on a self-balancing robot. It would also be interesting to see the IQmathLib ported to other micros, such as the Arduino. Take a look and see how you can use this reference design in your own projects!

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DIY Gas Can Speakers Blast Your Tunes

Gas Can Speaker

Have you ever wanted to build your own speakers, but were a bit overwhelmed with all the information out there on cases and packaging? A recent Instructable by [Txje] goes over how to build a set of simple gas can speakers.

While using gas cans as speaker housings will not result in the best audiophile quality sound or be the cheapest option out there, it sure looks awesome, and is a great way to get started with building your own speakers. After testing out the speakers and electronics, holes in the gas cans are cut and the terminals and speakers are installed. “As an added bonus, the pour spout serves to release pressure in the speaker can. You can get everything you need for ~$69 from Amazon and/or Home Depot.” Not a bad price point for two very cool looking speakers.  Once you have built the speakers, now you can experiment with different fill material to see what results in better sound quality.

This is a simple, yet fun looking build. Something like this can make a nice gift for someone who spends a lot of time in their garage. What other crazy objects have you used for speaker enclosures?

We’re Not Joking Around; Something BIG is Coming

Hackaday Something BIG LogoCountdown timer, a special presentation on the first of this month, and now there’s been some weekly mystery posts. What are we playing at? We’re not playing. This is real.

That timer is now below the 10-day mark and with every passing minute we become more giddy about the unrelenting awesome that is to come. Want to know what we’re talking about without waiting until the end? Are you a clever person? Then you might just be able to figure it all out. Try to unlock the clues from past weeks, and hit the Freenode ##hackaday channel on IRC if you need some hints (we’re certainly not going to post spoilers here).

We wouldn’t mind some help with a whisper campaign as well. Spout your conspiracy theories, and your delight at solving our puzzles to whoever will listen. Get it right and you can do the “I told you so” thing for the rest of the…. oops, that would be telling.

Sci-Fi Contest Roundup: No Tea

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In case you haven’t heard, we’re running a contest on Hackaday Projects for the best Sci-Fi build. We’re a little under two weeks until the deadline for the contest and so far there are a lot of great entries (and lots of great prizes still up for grabs).

If there’s one thing this contest has taught us, it’s that Hackaday readers have impeccable taste in their choices of books, movies, TV shows, and video games. We were surprised at how many entries there are for Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a series not generally known for having cool gadgets such as giant mechs, lightsabers, and other impressively awesome stuff. Here’s a roundup of the current HHGTTG submissions for the Sci-Fi contest:

Doors That Sass

roundup-robot-doorThe doors in Hitchhiker’s Guide are insufferable self-contented sentient portals programmed by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation to love their simple lives. Upon everyone opening or closing one of these doors, they thank the person for validating their existence.

The door in [Jarrett]‘s hackerspace wouldn’t stay closed, so what better way to fix the door than with a robotic door greeter? Actually, it’s just a weight tied to a pulley that keeps the door closed with a little bit of circuitry that plays an .mp3 file when the door moves. Still, self-contented doors. [Goug] is also making one of these self-satisfied doors, but there’s not much in the way of progress.

Going Up?

sentient-elevatorThe Happy Vertical People Transporter is HHGTTG’s answer to the common elevator. Like doors, they’re also sentient, but also have ‘defocused temporal perception’ to arrive at a floor before a passenger even realizes they need a lift. [DigiGram] and [Lolla] are working on one of these sentient elevators using a webcam, OpenCV, and some AVR-based electronics.

Look Out!

peril-sensitive-glassesThe Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses allow the user to adapt to danger by blacking out a the first signs of peril. [colabot] and [minimum effective dose] realized you can just buy glasses that can be blacked out electronically in the form of active shutter glasses for a 3D TV. With a few peril sensors, they’re working on finishing up their peril sensitive sunglasses.

Remember, the Hackaday Projects Sci-Fi contest doesn’t end until April 29th. That leaves you plenty of time to enter your own build. May we suggest a Brownian motion simulation beverage?

 

Sniffing Vending Machine Buses

Sniffing the Multidrop Bus

 

We’ve talked about a variety of protocols and how to deal with them in the past. Today, [Dan] is working on sniffing vending machine Multidrop Bus. The Multidrop Bus (MDB) protocol is a standard used in vending machines to connect devices such as currency collectors to the host controller.

To connect to the bus, interface hardware is required. [Dan] worked out compliant hardware and connected it to an Arduino. With the device on the bus, [Dan] got to work on an Arduino sketch to parse the MDB data into a human-readable format. With that working, the bus can easily be sniffed over the Arduino’s serial console.

This is just the start of a more involved project. Since this protocol is used to communicate with a vending machine’s currency collector or card reader, being able to communicate it would allow him to implement his own payment methods. The plan is to augment the vending machine he operates at Vancouver Hack Space to accept Bitcoin. We’re looking forward to seeing that project unfold.

Raspberry Pi Remote Audio Link

Hardware for remote audio link

 

In broadcast, lots of people are still using dedicated analog lines to connect remote sites. These operate like old telephone systems: you call up the operator and request to be patched through to a specific site. They’re also rather expensive.

For a hospital radio station, [Marc] wanted to replace the old system with something less costly. The result is his Raspberry Pi STL in a Box. Inside the box is a Raspberry Pi, PiFace display, a pair of meters, and some analog hardware for the audio.

On the software side, the system uses LiquidSoap to manage the stream. LiquidSoap uses a language to configure streams, and [Marc] has a write-up on how to configure LiquidSoap for this application. On the hardware side, SSM2142 ICs convert the signal from single-ended to balanced. The meters use the LM3915 bar drivers to control the meters.

The Python script that controls the box is provided, and could be helpful for anyone needing to build their own low-cost audio link.

 

Interactive Gloves Turn Gestures into Music

Imogen Heap wearing her Mi.Mu gloves

[Imogen Heap] is a UK-based musician who is trying to change the way we think about making music. She’s been working on a pair of gloves called the Mi.Mu, and they’re getting close to production.

In the included interview she explains that while computers and technology have brought many new advances to music, twiddling dials and pushing random buttons “is not very exciting for me, or the audience”. With these gloves, the artist becomes one with the music and interaction.

The current iteration of gloves use flex sensors along each finger to determine the movement (along with motion sensors for other gestures). She’s been through many designs and hopes to integrate e-materials into the next — using the actual glove as the sensor (not physical flex sensors).

She’s been working with both developers and musicians mapping the various motions of the gloves to music which makes sense in an intuitive way, and it’s very unique to see in action.

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